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multiline inplace edit

by meonkeys (Chaplain)
on Aug 07, 2003 at 01:09 UTC ( #281668=sourcecode: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??
Category: Text Processing
Author/Contact Info Adam Monsen <>
Description: Edit files in-place using a single regex (regular expression) that will be applied to the entire file as a string. Useful for applying multiline regexes and avoiding shell redirection and backup files. Also, quite dangerous!

Call like so:  ./ <regex> <files>...


./ 's/your([\n\s]*?)friend/joe${1}${2}/ms' foo.txt

Please let me know if there is are easier/more elegant ways to do this, especially as a one-liner. When making suggestions, please keep in mind that my goals were to provide:

  • complete power of search and replace with Perl regexes
  • in-place file editing on multiple files
This script is mainly for Perl-savvy users or those familiar with Perl-compatible regular expressions.
#!/usr/bin/perl -w
use strict;                                                           
use Getopt::Declare;

# $Id:,v 1.5 2003/08/07 00:44:02 adamm Exp $

our $VERSION = 0.01;

our $usage_spec = <<'UsageSpec';

  Edit files in-place using a single regex that will be applied to
  the entire file as a string.

  <regex>               regex to be applied to files
  <files>...            one or more files to slurp in and run regex ag

  WARNING: the first argument is added to an eval block!

    ./ 's/your([\n\s]*?)friend/joe${1}${2}/ms' foo.txt

our $args = new Getopt::Declare ($usage_spec) or die;

local $/;

for (@{$args->{'<files>'}}) {
  open (FH, "< $_") or die "error opening $_ for reading: $!";
  my $whole_file = <FH>;
  my $matching_code = '{ $whole_file =~ ' . $args->{'<regex>'} . ' }';
  eval $matching_code;
  die $@ if $@;
  close(FH) or die "error closing $!";

  open (FH, "> $_") or die "error opening $_ for writing: $!";
  print FH $whole_file;
  close(FH) or warn "error closing $!";
Replies are listed 'Best First'.
•Re: multiline inplace edit
by merlyn (Sage) on Aug 07, 2003 at 01:12 UTC
      How about -0777 instead of that clumsy BEGIN? ;) See perldoc perlrun. *tongue in cheek*

      Makeshifts last the longest.

      Damn. I knew it.

      Well, hope someone enjoys reading it, anyway! :)

      "A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack."

Re: multiline inplace edit
by Anonymous Monk on Aug 07, 2003 at 07:32 UTC

    I usually do this and I get the same result without a script.

    perl -i -0pe 's/foo/bar/g' file1 file2

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